India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Cover Story
October 20, 2012

India’s Best Dressed List 2012

Text and Interviews by Shirin Mehta, Sitanshi Talati-Parikh. Photographed By Norbert Kniat (Anima Creative Manage ment), Evren D'souza (Mumbai), Shibu Arakkal (Bengaluru), Karishma Bedi (Delhi). Realisation by Nisha Jhangiani, Nirali Mehta, Poulomi Dey

The eagerly awaited annual Hall of Fame for India’s Best Dressed women is finally here! There are some new entries on the list, some have been here before and then there are the Perennials – those who rarely put a sartorial step wrong

Neha Dhupia
For embracing her curves with pizzazz

Top accessories
There is no better accessory than your own curves! Having said that, the fit of the clothes should do the talking. I add an edge with an oversized watch or neckpiece.

Foot fetish
I choose my shoes first and then my clothes. I have lost count of the number of pairs I own. I have a CD of all my shoes on my iPad! Local Italian handmade shoes, Louis Vuitton, Giuseppe Zanotti, Salvatore Ferragamo, Jimmy Choo, Tod’s, Rapallo, I love them all.

Colour code
I dress in shades, not colours. Black, white, olive, grey….

Fashion faux pas
I wore a shirt for an event and did not realise that with the camera flashes, it would show my inners! I have worn tons of bling to catch everyone’s eye but I have learnt a lot since.

Great fashion moment
At IIFA last year, I did this polka dotted Lanvin gown – it had a timeless look.

Passions
I eat, drink, breathe films. I watch a feature almost every night. Fitness whether it is yoga, Pilates or going to the gym. I have a small passion for cooking and today I can cook up a great meal for four persons.

Payal Khandwala
For reinventing herself, but remaining true to form

A fashion no-no
Wearing clothes that are two sizes too small, too tight, too short, too uncomfortable and especially with the wrong type of undergarments. Clothes have to work for you, not the other way around. It’s always nice to leave something to the imagination, a little mystery is nice.

Wardrobe staples
Well-fitted pair of blue jeans, a long multipurpose scarf I can wear many ways, one comfortable pair of heels and a pair of flats, a Benarasi sari, palazzos, colour blocked separates to mix and match so I can curate my own wardrobe, one wide leather belt, aviators, a string of beads and some vintage silver jewellery.

Stylish icons
Audrey Hepburn, Gayatri Devi.

Your favourite fashion eras
The grace of the ’20s, the freedom of the ’70s with the androgyny of today.

Kind of art (era/style) that you connect with your fashion style
Without a doubt abstract expressionism and minimalism. Dramatic but subtle at the same time.

An overdone trend
Evening gowns, ballroom dressing and the eternal princess/doll hangover.

Your fashion soul city
New York.

Your fashion inspirations
Orchestrating a palette of colour is central to my designing process, therefore especially art and some architecture. Tribal costumes and jewellery from across the world, origami and the minimalism of Japan, weaves and colours of India, flea markets and street fashion.

Do you love designer labels or hate them?
I think it’s pointless being a slave of any brand. You must be your own brand. I don’t see the point in wearing something because someone made it, you must only buy it because you love it and it speaks to you in a special way.

Bhawna Sharma
For her maverick attitude to fashion

Your current fashion phase
To play with my old wardrobe.

Your fashion inspirations
State of mind and travel.

Fashion no-nos
I am flexible…if I look good in it I’ll be in it….

Your fitness mantra
Eat well, work out five days a week, three litres of water daily, sleep seven hours, breathe and smile.

Recently discovered labels you like
None.

Quick day to evening transition without changing your outfit
Change hairstyle and colour of my lips….

A dressing rule you follow
No rule, be true to yourself….

A great look you pulled off recently
What can I say, every day is great….

Dressing up song or artist of the moment
Damien Lazarus, DJ underground electronic music….

Your big passion
Life!

Kangna Ranaut
For caring a hang for the style police and doing her own thing

Current fashion phase
These days I have added a bit of quirk to my style. Stylish but slightly weird, that’s my style these days, not just pretty things.

On-screen versus personal style
I don’t watch movies, I am always busy filming.

Your view on Bollywood style
Over the years Bollywood has developed its own style which is not authentic but has a bit of everything – much like Bollywood dance….

Icons and inspirations
Old Hollywood is my all-time inspiration.

How seriously should we take red carpet scrutinies?
For me, style and fashion are very personal. Fashion is not about buying the latest bags and dresses from all the French and Italian designers but it’s a personal interpretation of one’s attitude and character. My style is mine; it shows how I see and perceive the world around me. It’s not to impress the fashion police. For that, I would have to adapt their style (which I dread and would be a nightmare for me).

Fashion soul city
Cities that inspires me in terms of fashion: Rome, Jaipur, Paris.

Current sartorial passion
These days my big passion is high-waist jeans with very short tops.

Pernia Qureshi
For staying on the feminine and classic path

Your signature style
Timeless rather than eclectic or experimental. I like trying new designers….

Top Indian designers
Savio Jon for his very cool sportswear adapted to high fashion, James Ferreira, Atsu Sekhose, Masaba Gupta, Shivan & Narresh to name a few….

Top International designers
The Row, Celine, Thierry Mugler for classic stuff, Chloe….

Style in Bollywood
Bollywood has really evolved. Actresses take care to dress well even to go to the airport or for a cup of coffee. Having a stylist has become a trend. Bollywood stylists earlier remained in the background. After Aisha, people have realised that styling is a very serious thing. Hopefully, I was one of the people to bring about that change.

Accessory loves
I am very lazy and once I use a handbag, I keep using it. Celine, Hermes, Chanel, Bottega Veneta are great brands. Among Indian bags, I love Poem bags which are available on my online store.

In my closet
Shoes! My footwear gets ruined very quickly. I just wear everything to death. I buy things and wear them immediately. I love Christian Louboutin and Giuseppe Zanotti for heels, Pierre Hardy and Hermès for flats.

Soul piece of the moment
Recently I discovered Atsu’s trench coat kurta in yellow with straight trousers – I love reinventing classics.

Big Passions
Dressing up! I am a Kuchipudi dancer and spend the entire morning dancing. I also love to eat and sleep. I have had a high metabolism since I was a kid. I cannot get along with people who do not like to eat.

Shreyaa Singh
For soft feminine dressing inspired by the fitness cult

Current fashion phase
Sleek comfortable cuts and colours that pop.

Recently discovered labels and perennial favourites  
Raven and Rose, Namrata Joshipura, True Religion jeans, Helmut Lang, Christian Lacroix.

Wardrobe treasures
A jade green Grecian dress by Raven and Rose, Abercrombie & Fitch track pants, and an army green duck hunting jacket.

Fashion triumph in the last year
Experimenting with bold colours.

Accessory addictions  
Sunglasses are essential, can’t leave home without them.

Places that inspire
Spain, Italy, New York and Mumbai.

Beauty mantra
Tons of rest and lots of water.

Importance of fitness to your look
It is important to my day look since I do a combination of yoga, gym and Pilates. It is important to look stylish and comfortable at the gym and while running day-to-day errands.

Big passions
Exercise, healthy diet, cooking, reading, being a mom, travelling and spending quality time with my friends.

Anushka Menon
For standing tall in her boots

Your signature style
Skinny jeans (jeggings) a loose tee and a pair of military boots.

Your current wardrobe favourite
Faded and ripped denim shorts from Zara.

The kind of art/photography you would connect with your fashion style
Strong and edgy.

Black and white or colour?
Both, but I prefer black and white.

Your favourite fashion eras
Now.

Dressing rule followed before leaving home
Try not to look like you are going to the gym!

An overdone trend
The geek look.

Your fashion soul city
New York.

You’re passionate about
Living.

Ira Dubey
For switching over from rock chic glam to just chic

Your signature style
Comfy stylish with a statement accessory, less is more. I play with bright colours or lots of whites, nudes and blacks, depending on the season. I don’t like figure-hugging clothes so I generally wear looser silhouettes teamed with tights or skinny jeans.

A fashion no-no
Fur in Mumbai! Sequins from head to toe. Red lips and red nails with a red outfit.

A fashion experiment that went wrong
Palazzo pants (wide leg trousers) that I tried elongating with sky-high heels – which still looked all wrong because of my petite frame.

Fitness mantra
Yoga three to four times a week, a walk twice a week, eight hours of sleep, lots of water and a happy healthy positive state of mind.

A fashion secret
A statement accessory on only one body part. Keep the outfit simple and focus on letting that accessory shine, balance the look with killer heels and an embellished clutch and you’re good to go.

Dressing rule before leaving home
Perfume, well-ironed outfit and quick hair fix (which needs nurturing as it is wavy, thick and long).

Changes in your dressing in the last year
Simpler, cleaner, lot more nudes, hint of sequins, longer silhouettes, more feminine. Three years ago I was more rock star chic/glam – now that’s changed!

Precious inheritances
A beautiful topaz antique ring my mother bought with her first pay cheque when she was 18 and my nani’s pearl and diamond earrings.

Favourite designers
Tom Ford, Stella McCartney, Anamika Khanna, Sabyasachi, Ritika Mirchandani, Chloe, Alexander Wang, Shahab Durazi.

Sherina Dalamal
For her holistic attitude to fashion and style

Current fashion phase
Less is more.

Design philosophy
Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. ‘Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening’ according to Coco Chanel.

Artistic inspiration
Everything around me but my mother most of all.

Your fashion soul city
Paris….

Big sartorial moment in the last year
I love playing dress up…so most moments are sartorial!

Accessory loves
My iPad.

Fitness mantra
You are what you eat….

Best fashion era
The ’70s…carefree and fun!

A dressing rule you follow
When it comes to dressing, comfort is overrated.

Poorna Jagannathan
For adding a new dimension to the Bollywood look

Your signature style
Things that are really comfortable.

A fashion secret – something that works like a lucky charm
Double-sided tape: it lets me wear more edgy outfits without the risk of a wardrobe malfunction.

A fashionable moment last year
For the Filmfare awards, I wore this regal looking dress from Chanel’s Byzantine collection. The fit was impeccable.

Your fashion cringe moment
Delhi Belly success party. Thanks for taking me back!

Recent splurge buy
A beautiful and classy dress from Drashta.

Recent bargain buy
80 per cent off Charles Kammer shoes in Paris.

Stylish films
Hands down, the movie Grease. (Did I just date myself?)

Fashion icons/ inspirations
I love Keira Knightly’s fashion sense. And I like Skylar Grey’s take on dark.

Are you a planned or spontaneous dresser?
In my head, I’m a planned dresser, but the way it actually works out is last minute and spontaneous.

Something that does not work for you but you wish it did
Nine inch heels. It’s not that I wish I could wear them, it’s more like when I wear them, I wish I didn’t topple over.

Your current wardrobe favourite
Combat boots by All Saints.

Fitness mantra
Stay calm and drink coconut water.

You’re passionate about
Good theatre.

Sameera Reddy
For her style evolution and for totally promoting Indian designers

Your signature style
Androgynous and sporty chic. I have an athletic body and a strong feminine look works for me.

Your style evolution
Being an actress I played safe and portrayed what was expected of me. But, I had to get out of that baby-doll awkward look since my personality clashed with this and I decided to wear what I liked. It has been an amazing learning curve and I have totally enjoyed it.

In your closet
Suits, edgy high-powered jackets, men’s trousers, palazzo pants, high-waisted pants…even brogues. You will hardly see dresses. Rishta by Arjun Saluja makes me gorgeous jackets which team up with anything.

Top designers
I don’t have any favourites, it depends on my mood. I wear anything from Bodice, Shivan & Narresh to Arjun Saluja. The new designers are so experimental and I want to explore that. I also plug into the more established designers.

Bollywood style
I am impressed that it has evolved and I am happy to be a part of that trend. I am enjoying fashion and in Bollywood we have the opportunity to reach out and expect people to enjoy it with us.

Accessory loves
Chunky silver jewellery! You will hardly ever catch me in gold. Amrapali is a brand that I really like.

Sartorial experiments
I love playing with hair – up-dos, edgy styles, pin-up curls…. Hair can really make or break your outfit.

Sari escapades
It used to be a safe alternative but today I love to do things with sari blouses while wearing the sari the traditional way. At IFFA, I wore a Rohit Bal sari with a Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna embroidered top. A sari can be as eccentric as you want it to be and while designers are particular about the way their clothes should be worn, I also like to take an individual turn!

Sana Rezwan
For treasuring chiffons and leather equally

Your signature style
Minimal with a rock chic attitude.

A fashion no-no
Tight mini dresses showing excess cleavage.

Fitness mantra
Yoga three times a week combined with walking twice a week.

A fashion secret
A pair of skinny jeans and ankle boots always work for me – night or day.

A fashionable moment last year
A one-shoulder 3.1 Phillip Lim dress that I wore to the launch of Maison.
 
Dressing rule before leaving home
I never walk out of the house without applying kohl in my eyes.

Precious inheritances
My grandmother’s very trend-forward sari that I cherish to this date, which is an electric blue chiffon with badla embroidery.

Wardrobe staples
A pair of heels from Giuseppe Zanotti, jeans from Acne, jersey basics from Alexander Wang and a leather jacket from Rick Owens.

Favourite designers
Cedric Charlier, Azzedine Alaia, Rodarte, Celine and 3.1 Phillip Lim are a few favourites.

An overdone trend
Bling is no more in!

A recent splurge buy
A pair of black suede ankle booties from Giuseppe Zanotti with a gold metal heel.

A recent bargain buy
Leather leggings from Topshop.

Things you are passionate about
Food, art and my cat, Alex.

Sabina Chopra
For her passion and promotion of Indian design in what she wears and does

Style philosophy
My simple philosophy on style is the same as it is about every aspect of my life: you have got to be thinking positive thoughts to feel good…and there is no way you can Look good if you don’t feel good…no matter how beautiful the dress. I always dress instinctively…and I stay very far from anything that’s ‘trendy’.

Current label loves
I have a constant favourite – Sabyasachi. I love the aesthetics and integrity of the label.

A fashion experiment that you nailed perfectly
I think I manage to blend the traditional with the contemporary very well. For instance, I love wearing flowers in my hair and I have worn flowers in my hair with formal evening dresses and even casual jeans and a T-shirt and it’s worked always.

Inspiring fashion eras
I love all things vintage – so would say the ’40s and ’50s.

Planned or spontaneous dresser
Totally spontaneous. If I had to plan my dressing, I would never leave my house!

How important is it to support Indian design talent?
Not only do I wear predominantly Indian designers, I also do my best to help them understand the customer. We have great talent in this country and I believe it’s very important to support that to keep our craft and textile heritage alive.

Soul piece of the moment
I am loving badges. They set my mood for the day and are a great accessory if worn right.

Big passion
I love design – in fashion, in home, in product. I am so in awe of the creative process. I believe it awakens a new consciousness within all of us.

Pushpanjali Chawla
For translating her zest for life into classic and sophisticated dressing

Your Signature style
Sophisticated Classic with a feminine touch. Timeless Elegance is my style mantra.

In your wardrobe
My engagement ring that was designed by my husband, an Alexander McQueen LBD, an ivory top by Dior, simple black pumps by Gucci and a jacket by Burberry.

Label loves
International: Lanvin, Dior, Givenchy, Chanel, Burberry and Gianfranco Ferre.
Indian: JJ Valaya and Gaurav Gupta.
My all-time favourite iconic label is Mainbocher. Sadly, they closed their doors in 1971.

A big fashion no-no
Visible panty lines! No one should be able to tell what kind of underwear you have on. It looks crude, sloppy and just plain ugly.

A current trend that you sport with your own take
I love the Awesome Eighties for giving us the ultimate feminine power dressing tool – the skirt suit! This season I am wearing them with funky shoes and messy up-dos for a formal but fun look.

Recent splurges
A bright tangerine bag by Tod’s and a new pair of ruby and diamond earrings.

Style icons
I have been inspired by Babe Paley, CZ Guest and Liz Tilberis. In my personal life I am constantly inspired by ideas and creations that are timeless. So it’s no surprise that the element of timelessness has carried into my fashion sense as well. I also like the style sense of Jada Pinkett Smith, Victoria Beckham and Angelina Jolie.

Accessory addictions
I am not addicted to accessories in the classic sense. But I consider good skin to be the best accessory and I am completely addicted to skincare products.

Pratima Bhatia
For having a staple for every occasion

Your signature style
I don’t have one – imagine losing the spontaneity because you have to conform to a definition!

A fashion secret
Really high heels, Mumtaz Deluxe Kajal, Jo Malone Red Roses, a blow dry and I could rule the world.

Your current wardrobe favourite
A Maison Martin Margiela dress with a feather vest – it’s fashion foie gras! Also a yummy colour-block cami dress from Marni and an Abu-Sandeep sari with a peek-a-boo blouse that I wore to the launch of the duo’s India Fantastique.

Your wardrobe treasures
My Jay Ahr gown, a Jason Wu Daphne satchel in ivory and Tabitha Simmons pumps. A rangkaat sari from Benaras from my trousseau, my grandmother-in-law’s heirloom laadli necklace with Basra pearls and Sabbia Rosa lingerie.

A recent splurge buy
A diamond ring from the early 1900s from a vintage boutique Au Vase de Delft on Rue Cambon in Paris.

A recent bargain buy
A 1960s fawn and coral Emilio Pucci kimono I got in a little boutique in Rome. And a jewel of a petit point little clutch I found in Chor Bazaar for a steal.

Your favourite fashion eras
Today. Fashion is most empowered today – there are no rules and you can borrow bits from past eras. Imagine living with rules that dictated a whole era – how depressing!

Dressing rule followed before leaving home
Madonna, a glass of Moët and a mambo in my walk-in closet.

Are you a planned or spontaneous dresser?
I decide in the shower and it’s madness thereafter. Unless of course it’s a black tie or a sari moment. Then I plan.

Drashta Sarvaiya
For her no-nonsense attitude to style

Your signature style
Cat eye liner.

A fashion no-no
Underwear over pants.

A fashion secret – something that works for you like a lucky charm
The ’50s silhouette.

Your current wardrobe favourite
Drashta’s printed pantsuit.

A recent splurge buy
An iPad.

A recent bargain buy
None!

Are you a planned or spontaneous dresser
Spontaneous!

An overdone trend
Hipster glasses.

Your fashion soul city
Paris.

Wardrobe staples
Trousers.

Wardrobe treasures
Currency quilted winter coats from my AW2010 line.

Suhani Pittie
For always thinking vintage and always looking inspired

Your signature style
Relaxed. Generally layered with a waistcoat or jacket or something that completely offsets it. Lots of whites and blacks. Clean and crisp. But almost always embracing India in some way.

A fashion no-no
Skimpy sari blouses with all that bling!

A fashion secret
An A&T waistcoat with my jewellery, laced with oodles of sense of humour!

Your current wardrobe favourite
Two. An amazing embroidered waistcoat from Anamika Khanna that I wear with everything! And a really old charms necklace that my grandmother gave me. The charms include a lantern, horse carriage, cannon, a mini clock and a mini pen. The craftsmanship gives me goosebumps!

Recent splurge buys
I’m not a shopper. But I did buy nearly eleven kilos of Rajasthani jewellery from Jodhpur last year. Also recently, eleven books on architecture, two on bar designing, three on light design and one on the future of car design.

Recent bargain buy
An enamelled eagle ring from a mela in Hyderabad. It’s brilliant!

Favourite fashion eras
Men’s fashion from the Regency era. So dapper with their cravats and tailcoats.

Dressing rule followed before leaving home
To always check myself sideways. I once walked around an entire sangeet with my skirt not properly worn. Someone asked me if I was wearing a tutu!

Crazy about
Vintage things. I can spend all my money on old fabrics and old garments and history books. And also on Anamika’s clothes, but those I never have to pay for! (That’s what sisters are for.) I’m also passionate about my DSLR and Casio watches.

Kulsum Shadab
For making pretty chic

Your signature style
I tend to focus on simple elegant silhouettes and add a statement piece of jewellery that always stands out.

A fashion no-no
Never wear an outfit that’s smaller than your size and never go for a look that isn’t your age.

Fitness mantra
Fitness is a way of life for me: I combine my 10k run with weight training and yoga.

A fashion secret
My smile! It instantly brightens my face.

Dressing rule followed before leaving home
I always make sure I’m wearing comfortable shoes.

Precious inheritances
My mom’s emerald necklace, which was passed on to her by my grandmother – it’s priceless. Also, a beautiful traditional waistband from my mother-in-law, which was passed on to her by her mother-in-law…it’s timeless.

Wardrobe staples
A great fitting white shirt – it’s classic chic and goes with everything, a pair of well-fitted pants, a timeless black dress, a pair of sexy yet comfortable shoes… and bold accessories. They always give your outfit ammunition – for me it is a bracelet and a standout handbag.

Top designers
International designers are Alexander McQueen, Emilio Pucci, Issa and Dries Van Noten. Among the Indian designers, my favourite is Gaurav Gupta.

An overdone trend
Juicy Couture.

A recent splurge buy
A stunning pair of rose-cut earrings.

A recent bargain buy
A Chloe party bag from Maison.

Things you are passionate about
My family, exploring new cultures, food and fashion.

Pia Singh
For refusing to be a fashion victim

Your Signature style
I wear what I feel like and err on the side of dressing elegantly. I like clean classic dressing. Too many elements take away from things.

Office style
I like to wear mostly saris to work. I do not follow fashion trends. I like to dress elegantly and conservatively. Dressing is a state of mind. I wear a lot of chiffon as also Benarasi and South Indian weaves.

Evening wear
Westerns in the evenings. Trousers, dresses or jeans, my style is quite relaxed. I am not addicted to designer clothes. I wear high street brands like Zara, H & M, a blazer from Armani. I like Tarun Tahiliani’s clothes and Sabyasachi as well.

Accessory alert
I have not changed my work bag for five years! Because my bag is full of all my things, it is more like a brief-case, a reflection of all that I need. More functional than anything. In the evenings, I love to carry different bags. I must confess I am not obsessed by shoes. I go for very classic pairs, weird and zany do not appeal.

Fashion philosophy
You should dictate fashion, not be dictated by it. When I feel like dressing up, I do, but the way I dress does not make me feel a certain way. I prefer calm, clean simplicity that reflects the state of mind I want to project of myself rather than the clothes dictating my persona.

Trend forecast
I do not get the meaning of trends. Why should I follow something when it isn’t me? Why should I follow something, period!

Big passions
Trekking inspires me. I love most to go to the Himalayas – Bhutan, Nepal….

Niamat Bakshi
For knowing the difference between day and night dressing

Your signature style
I have two very distinct signature styles. Day: quite conservative; slim-fit jeans, flats and well-fitted button down shirts.  Night: I love to ‘dress up’; body-conscious dresses that have sharp silhouettes and very high heels to finish off each look.

A fashion no-no
Wearing stockings with sandals.

Fashion faux pas
Trainers with cocktail dresses à la Kristen Stewart.

Your current wardrobe favourite
A Haider Ackerman gold peplum jacket.

A dressing rule followed before you leave home
As Coco Chanel said, ‘Less is always more’. Before I leave the house, I look in the mirror and remove one accessory to ensure that I am not over doing it.

An over-done trend
Sequinned shorts, sheer baby-doll tops, metallic mini skirts and beaded jeans are all done to death.

Any change in your dressing in the last year
I don’t think there has been any significant change. But, I have started to wear more prints than I used to. I usually wore monochrome or two-tone dresses but I have started experimenting with designers such as Peter Pilotto and Michael Van Der Ham who are known for their digital/floral prints.

A fashionable moment last year
It was at a fashion show organised by the Taj for the revival of the Benarasi sari. I very rarely wear saris and here I wore a very traditional, hand-woven ethnic one!

Your wardrobe staples
Balenciaga leather jackets in black and brown, Lanvin ballerina flats (cannot have enough!), J Brand jeans in all colours, Yves Saint Laurent blazer.

A wardrobe treasure
My wedding lehenga designed by Rohit Bal which was a deep red and covered in salma and crystal work.

Laila Tyabji
For maturing gracefully while continuing to make Indian crafts her own

Signature style
Having run the gamut of everything from bermudas and bikinis to kurtas, lungis and lehengas, I am now a happily grey-haired lady in handloom saris.

You hand-make your own accessories?
I do embroider and applique my own bags and coats. I do all the classic Indian embroideries and used to design and craft all my clothes till I switched to saris.

Big fashion era
The ’60s and ’70s: when young people were liberated from formal dress codes and realised that clothes and colour could be an exciting expression of one’s own personality. Alas, now, fashion forecasts and high street brands have taken over the world and made it uniform again.

Wardrobe treasures
A spectacular brocade choga of my father’s. He was six feet tall, so it sweeps to the ground and is the perfect winter wedding cover-up.

Soul piece of the moment
A Tushar Kumar cobweb felted pashmina stole – it’s like wearing a delicate warm cloud.

Textures and colours
I like to play with colours and textures and not get stuck in any one stereotype. My colours have softened as I’ve aged though – blue, jade, old rose and silver grey, rather than red, emerald, black and yellow.

How important is it to support Indian design talent?
It’s important to support and celebrate all talent – mediocrity so easily becomes the norm.

The place of craft in modern living
People increasingly want exclusive, one-of-a-kind products, and the only way to produce a unique piece is by hand crafting it. India has such extraordinary craft traditions; we can lead the world.

Big passion
Life itself – ever changing and always challenging.

Kalki Koechlin
For establishing different looks for her on-screen and off-screen persona

Your signature style
High-waist loose trousers, T-shirt, waistcoat, brockets and hat (basically Annie Hall).

A fashion experiment that went wrong
As a teenager, I wore really tight leopard print pants…I thought they were really cool. Disaster!

A fashion secret – something that works for you like a lucky charm
A little black dress I found in a flea market in London for two pounds. I’ve worn it on red carpets and to formal dinners and it always works.

A fashionable moment last year
I had to make an effort for Cannes this year…I wore Dior and Sabyasachi: kind of represented my French and Indian background.

A recent splurge buy
A dress by Thierry Colson.

A recent bargain buy
H&M shoes on sale for 15 pounds.

Favourite fashion eras
Twenties’ flapper girls and the ’60s.

Stylish films
A Single Man, Pretty Woman, À bout de souffle, Sin City.

Are you a planned or a spontaneous dresser?
Mostly spontaneous, except when I’m very nervous about an occasion. Then I plan from head to foot.

Dressing rule followed before leaving home
Must carry lip balm, flat shoes and sunglasses.

Favourite designers
Sabyasachi, Nimish Shah, Preeti S Kapoor, Marc Jacobs, Thierry Colson.

Perennials
The sartorially forward ladies who have featured three times in a row in Verve’s Best Dressed Hall of Fame, move on to the lofty echelons of the perennially stylish

Anamika Khanna
Whether you are a true-blue fashionista, a budding stylista or a designer of some reckoning, you would have one thing by Anamika Khanna in your wardrobe, or something you have your eye on from her collection. She plays with a standard palette but it is her bold strokes on subtle and minimalistic foundations that, combined with her perfect tailoring and stylish designs, makes her an universal favourite and an international brand. Her own media- shy persona is dressed in a slightly edgier version of her own numbers and her lithe figure and glossy long hair make her a style icon. She confessed last year to Verve, “I go through phases every two or three months and am constantly updating or evolving. There was a grunge phase, and a Boho phase. Now it’s a classic phase where I want everything to be clean.”

Malini Ramani
The designer of women’s luxury pret and resort lines who has recently wandered into designing interiors with a Goa outlet called Dreamscape, is one sexy dresser. Though today she shudders at the brevity of skirts past, she continues to flaunt the perfect silhouette for her fab and funky clothes. Between New Delhi and Goa and the rest of the world, she admits to designing what she herself likes to wear and infuses her dressing with a lot of fun and a good dose of humour. “I feel if I wouldn’t wear the piece, why would I expect anyone else to wear it?” she had stated to Verve. She is unabashedly into colour, the brighter, the better and it seems inevitable that the Malini Ramani look should now pervade into interiors as well. After all, it is all about lifestyle, isn’t it?

Freida Pinto
Who has not seen images of India’s gorgeous export to Hollywood, in red carpet-worthy, floor-sweeping gowns in solid hues, with or without arm candy Dev Patel in tow. She has taken to Hollywood dressing as easily as needle to thread, leaning towards the classic while playing with the preppy in her day looks. On some international Best Dressed Lists as well, she shows a preference for Indian designers too, James Ferreira, Nikasha Tawade and Rohit Bal being some of the favourites. Her best accessories? Her dusky flawless skin and thousand watt smile!

Raseel Gujral Ansal
Artist Satish Gujral’s daughter has grown up “absorbing design without realising I was doing so”. The architect cum interior designer loves Indian design and has a particular affinity for Indian textiles. “I style myself loosely around trends, one doesn’t want to be eccentric,” she said to Verve. The creator and owner of the Casa Paradox chain of stores is an art enthusiast and collector. Impeccably elegant in saris for the evening, she endorses Indian craft and design with flair. A favourite label is Kotwara by Meera and Muzaffar Ali, their chikankari, aari and badla embroideries drawing her in irresistibly.

Aparna Roddam
The brand and business developer for Indian fashion and accessories designers, currently living in Hyderabad, is also into fitness and kick boxing in particular. Flaunting a sharp, fringed hairstyle that immediately draws attention, the stylish entrepreneur wears Indian and western designers with her own take on kooky and humorous. For Verve’s Best Dressed photo shoot last year, she put together a stunning ensemble that included a star print sari from Kallol Datta 1955, a silk jacket from Obataimu, neckpiece from Anaikka and peep-toe heels from Christian Louboutin. The look, pure Aparna Roddam! About the fashion versus style debate she has said, “It’s the same old argument. The former clones, the later creates.”

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“Luxury Means Doing Simple Things”

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